Trial (SWE)
Motherless


3.0
good

Review

by Voivod STAFF
July 29th, 2018 | 10 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Swedes merely keep their brand of metal afloat.

During his prolific lifetime, Steve Jobs quipped time and again about corporate modus operandi in tech, yet his 1995 “lost” interview, merely a month before his anointment as head of Apple (then at the throes of bankruptcy), is considered as the epitome of his clairvoyance regarding the future impact of computers and the internet in modern life. In discussing what makes a corporate entity tick, he pointed the finger towards the subterranean ebb and flow between the so-called “people of content”, and the “people of process”. Jobs posited that the former party is a “pain in the ass to manage”, but its talent leads the way to great products (and corporate prosperity), provided that the latter party allows them to do so.

The music industry, its metal sector in particular, is analogously partitioned, with people in managerial positions playing a crucial role in the genre’s multi-faceted proliferation; and yet, for all the genuine breakthroughs put on record, there were examples of outfits prompted to mine their inspiration greedily, in order to serve the label/corporate zeitgeist. The Gathering released Mandylion in 1995, but they were compelled to produce a follow-up album of similar spirit, something that the Dutch candidly acknowledged (and never repeated) thereafter. Ulver escaped the elongation of their folk/black metal affair, by unleashing the raw, lo-fi black metal Nattens Madrigal affair, before fleeing to their own electro/avant-garde/anything-goes universe. Post-Still Life era Opeth admitted that Blackwater Park was released, merely to enforce the momentum of its predecessor, and the band’s altogether. Post-Draconian Times Paradise Lost on the other hand, weary of the huge expectations by fans and press alike, decided to break the circle with One Second.

In hindsight, the aforementioned management calls seem justified, given the comings and goings of that era; metal sub-genres, as well as specific band styles, in the ‘90s (let alone the ‘80s) were hardly explored; revenue from album sales was more or less guaranteed if the music was good (or if outfits were at the right place the right time); touring was prosperous as a result, so in most cases, all involving parties benefited. Fast forward some 20+ years; the margins for originality in every metal genre have been severely dwindled; metal bands, good or bad, have live concerts as their sole source of revenue, a fraction of the income their ‘90s and ‘80s predecessors were amassing at those times; therefore, one should expect that artistically and commercially successful band management, would be agile in its adaption to the those realities, as well as the discrete intricacies that come with each band. In the light of the aforementioned, it is unknown whether Trial’s current label played any role in expediting the release of Motherless with respect to Vessel, its predecessor. The Swedes spent 4 years crafting their sophomore album (easily among the best metal releases for the ‘00s), which landed them a contract with Metal Blade Records, and live concerts around Europe. Their latest album, however feels rushed, with the Swedes merely keeping their brand of metal afloat.

Motherless is a good album that retains the band’s unique character with respect to its peers, but then again, it lies far beneath its predecessor. Arrangement-wise, Trial’s affiliation with extreme metal, which was emphatically and evenly manifested in Vessels, is one that occurs herein only by happenstance, with guitar tremolo picking and the fast, blast-beat drumming becoming evident in the album opening track alone. In contrast, considerable effort has been undertaken for the album to get a progressive/atmospheric metal character across; unlike Vessel though, in which classic, progressive and extreme metal formed one homogeneous mixture, herein the level of intricacy on the nominally elaborate tracks, does not lead out of the woods and into the valley of tangible replay value. Towards the album’s end, three of those tracks form a convoluted cluster in which it is difficult to tell when one song starts or ends during casual or dedicated listens. In contrast, diversity in the remainder of the album, is sustained solely through the recursive succession of the more elaborate music with galloping, fairly enjoyable, yet ultimately forgettable classic metal numbers. To the album’s benefit, sound work grants the necessary clarity on all instruments at any volume level, although the ever strong vocals of Linus Johansson have been markedly placed ahead of everything.

For bands and labels, surviving – let alone succeeding – in today’s metal music industry, is a puzzle for adept solvers. How much time is necessary for music composition" Is that time window in check with the deadlines set or implied from contractual obligations" How much time should intervene between albums" Should releases occur when there’s truly something to be said or serve as mere excuses for a band to tour" Trial’s new album feels like sub-optimal answers were given to some of these questions. Be that as it may, the Swedes are still a good band, albums like Vessel simply don’t come out as accidents, so their next release is highly anticipated.



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user ratings (4)
Chart.
3.3
great
related reviews

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 29th 2018


7993 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Album stream:

http://trialheavymetal.bandcamp.com/album/motherless









Constructive criticism is most welcome.

Digging: Yellow Devil Sauce - Zulu

manosg
Staff Reviewer
July 29th 2018


11273 Comments


Great write up, Voi. Always a pleasure to read the word Mandylion in a review and I'm really glad their management pushed them to write Nighttime Birds.

I gather that this is a significant step down from Vessel but I'll try to give it a listen.

Digging: Winterstorm - A Coming Storm

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 29th 2018


7993 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

^^Nighttime Birds is excellent (my first contact with The Gathering, btw), but it will never be more than a Mandylion refinement. Their albums from 1998 to 2003 were nothing but revolutionary, and I tend to listen to those more.



About the album under review, it's a good classic metal album overall, but it's not of the same quality as Vessels, nor the Portrait album mentioned in "recommended" section.

Papa Universe
July 29th 2018


17740 Comments


from "Right out of nowhere, the Swedes are making a big wave while sailing the sea of epic heavy metal." to "The Swedes merely keep their brand of metal afloat." in 3 years. oh boy

Digging: Ex-Isles - Luxury Mass

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 29th 2018


7993 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

^^yeah, previous album is a gem, this one a lukewarm affair, go figure.



in 3 years



that's 2 years, actually

Papa Universe
July 29th 2018


17740 Comments


oh right, 2017

CompostCompote
August 4th 2018


1000 Comments


Tune in for the third album: The Swedes sink to the bottom of the ocean, which when you think about it is what most metals would have done.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 5th 2018


7993 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

^^Hopefully, Trial will rise above, they just need to remember what really works for them as a band.



There’s precedent too; The Primordial Temple was merely decent, and they managed to get their name on the map with the follow-up album.

TheNotrap
August 8th 2018


9250 Comments


Enjoyable reading, as usual.

"For bands and labels, surviving – let alone succeeding – in today’s metal music industry, is a puzzle for adept solvers."

I honestly don't know how bands can survive these days with so little income.
Digital/streaming platforms like spotity or even youtube, promote (at low cost) bands and albums, but on the other hand, are the main reason for the drastic sales decrease in recent years.
I think artists should get better royalties on streaming services, but it also helped if they didn't take so long between albums. They should release an album at least every 2 years.

Digging: Gorod - Aethra

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2018


7993 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

^^I’m right there with you regarding your assessments mate.



Unfortunately, only major bands have the means for releasing albums every two years, but as of late, even those bands take 3-5 years to release new material, because in principle, they can tour whenever they feel like it.



The situation is much more complex/difficult for new bands, which take at least 3-4 years before releasing new stuff, let alone go on tour.



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